China's coal imports slumped 20.63% in July compared with the same month last year, as strict import restrictions continued to weigh down Chinese buying appetites, despite a large price advantage of overseas coal against Chinese domestic products.
The world's top coal consumer imported 26.1 million tonnes of coal in July, data issued by the General Administration of Customs on August 7 showed. Compared with 25.29 million tonnes in June, the imports increased 0.81 million tonnes, or 3.22%.
Value of the imports totaled $1.74 billion, down 34.6% year on year but up 2.76% month on month. The average import price was calculated at $66.5/t, down $14.2/t year on year and $0.3/t month on month.
In terms of thermal coal, mainly used for power generation and accounting for the majority of the import mix, the seaborne import market was sitting near the historic lows created in early 2016, right before China launched the de-capacity campaign in the sector, which led to a significant decline in domestic supply and spurred seaborne import.
Data from sxcoal.com showed the most-traded Indonesian 3,800 Kcal/kg NAR thermal coal was range bound at $29-32/t CFR South China, lower than most time since June 2016 except late April-early May, when domestic supply was in a heavy surplus that curbed demand for overseas fuel.
The weakness in the seaborne market was mainly due to continuously stringent restrictions through lengthy customs clearing and import quotas.
The restrictions, which also impacted coking coal imports, were deemed as the key reason to the decline in July's coal imports.
Sxcoal.com assessed the Australian 5,500 Kcal/kg NAR thermal coal was 228.45 yuan/t lower than domestic same-calorific value cargoes on August 3, both CFR South China basis with VAT, with the spread up 0.08 yuan/t from a week ago.
In January-July, China's total coal imports rose 6.8% on the year to 200.09 million tonnes, which were worth $14.13 billion, down 4.4%.
(Writing by Alex Guo Editing by Tammy Yang)
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